“Doesn’t being an introvert mean you don’t like being around people and you just want to be alone?”
In high school, this question seemed to continually come into conversation. “What is an introvert?” our teacher would ask, and inevitably, someone would answer in a similar fashion. Being an introvert myself, my classmates’ ignorance was pretty annoying. Although our teacher would quickly correct them, it seemed that the connotation of the word “introvert” was ingrained in the minds of many students.
It seems that high school students are not the only ones who harbor misconceptions about introverts. Whenever many people hear someone described as an “introvert,” they immediately assume that this person is shy or reclusive. These are common misconceptions, and the connotations associated with introversion and introverts obscure people’s understanding of what it means to be introverted. The difference between introverts and extroverts actually lies in how people get their energy.
Extroverts gain energy from being around people and interacting with them, while introverts need time to regain their energy after interacting in social situations by spending time alone. Introverts often get tired if they spend a lot of time around large numbers of people. This is not to say that they don’t like being social or spending time with people, it simply means that their energy comes from a different place.
Although most people lean towards either introversion or extroversion, many people will experience both at different times. It is unlikely that someone never wants to be alone, just as it is unlikely that someone always wants to be alone. Here are five common misconceptions about introversion and what the behaviors of introverts actually mean:
1. Introverts don’t like spending time with people: the assumption that introverts would rather spend time alone than with other people is simply not true. Introverts can enjoy the company of others, but they require time alone to regain their energy. Some introverts can handle spending time with others for longer periods of time than others. Often, if an introvert spends a long time interacting with large groups of people, they will tire more quickly.
2. Introverts are shy: there is no link between shyness and introversion. Since the ability to speak quickly is seen as a trait of being outgoing, Introverts are considered shy because they usually think about their speech and actions beforehand. Many people also perceive the need to spend time alone as being shy.
3. Introverts are more negative: due to their tendency to spend more time thinking and reflecting, Introverts are seen as more negative. Since they do usually spend more time by themselves, they have more of an opportunity to reflect on the world around them. This can lead to a more realistic view of the world, but of course, this is not always the case.
4. Introverts don't like to go out: if an introvert is already exhausted from a day of interacting with many groups of people, they might opt to stay in. Choosing to stay in does not mean that this person doesn’t like to go out, they just might be too tired and need time to themselves. However, if introverts feel like they have enough energy, many would love the opportunity to go out with friends and interact with others at a party or another social situation.
5. Introverts are unfriendly: just as introversion can be mistaken as shyness, introversion and shyness can be mistaken for being unfriendly. Just because an introvert turns down an invitation to hang out, or takes a while to respond to your texts, does not mean that they are unfriendly. Give them time and patience; once they have had time to recharge, they will get back to you.